Sunday, April 12, 2015

Why, AZ, to Cottonwood, and Back Again

 Leaving Why on Monday morning

Well, going a little ways north and then back to Why wasn't exactly the plan.  

We left our primitive campground home in Why, AZ, on Monday so I could get a tooth pulled in Casa Grande.  That went extremely well.  By the next day, I was feeling fine and needed no more pain meds than the Arthritis Strength Tylenol that I take regularly, anyway.  We stayed Monday night at the Casa Grande Motel 6, which was just fine.  

After that we headed north and stayed Tuesday night at a motel and RV park in Cordes Lake, then drove up to Prescott on Wednesday morning.  I was delighted to do some shopping at Trader Joe's.  We also stopped for some new hardware for the bathroom.  Prescott gets bigger and more citified every time I go there.  I was glad to find a bookstore and an AA meeting and then head back out of town.  

From Prescott, we headed to Jerome, a place I'd always wanted to visit.  I had heard it was built on a cliff and that there is a very scenic road from Prescott to Jerome, but I had no idea it would be such a challenging drive over a mountain, with lots of switchbacks.  We had to stop for a while on the way down the other side of the mountain, because the brakes were getting really hot.

Coming down Mingus Mountain, from Prescott to Jerome

Jerome was a busy mining town for decades, then the mine closed and it became almost a ghost town.  In the 1970s, hippies came and rejuvenated the town as a tourist attraction, and it is definitely a fun place to see.  We went to the very small Jerome Historical Society museum on the main street and to a gift shop or two.  But we didn't stay long, because we had reservations to spend the night at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in nearby Cottonwood.

Another rider on the Verde Canyon train took this picture of a happy Steve and me

We camped one night at Dead Horse, which was nice, but more expensive ($25 plus a $5 reservation fee) than what I usually spend.  It was also a pleasant place to spend a relaxed Thursday morning before heading back towards Clarkdale to take the 1:00 p.m. Verde Canyon wilderness train tour.  And we needed the rest!  I hadn't realized that going to both Prescott and Jerome in one day was going to be so taxing on us.  We didn't drive all that far, but the roads were mountainous and unfamiliar, and we made lots of stops.  We'd pushed ourselves a little too hard.

Verde Canyon Railroad's motto is something about it being the journey, not the destination, which is good, because there really isn't a destination.  You just go 18 miles down into some canyons, past lots of beautiful mountains and red cliffs, looking down on the Verde River Valley.  Then they put the engines on the other end of the train and you go back.  Pretty uneventful, just watching gorgeous nature go by, while the PA system occasionally gave us some information about what we were seeing, in between train-related songs in lots of genres--folk, blues, country, etc.  There were snacks available for purchase in our coach car, and we had an attached car for outdoor seating.  The train never goes more than about 15 mph, and it was a warm, sunny day, so we spent most of the four hours outside.  I'd give this train ride a thumbs up for just about anybody.  The coup de grace was this sappy PA announcement at the end of the tour where we were told how much the owner of the railroad loves America, and dang if a bald eagle didn't come and soar right over us, as if on cue.  Disney couldn't have planned it better.

The view out the back of the RV at Camp Verde RV Resort

Our plan after taking the train trip was to just chill out for about three nights at an RV resort in Camp Verde.  We got a nice spot right on the bank of the Verde River, and we had laundry, showers, a hot tub, etc., all available.  Friday, we drove back into Cottonwood to have the brakes looked at, since they'd gotten so hot on Mingus Mountain, and they were fine.

When we got back to Camp Verde on Friday afternoon, Steve and I had a long, serious discussion about the trip, and I learned that it had not been working out well for him.  He's had foot and leg pain for a while, and we had doctor's appointments and lab tests before leaving Why.  We were called with the lab results after we were already on the road, and Steve's tests indicated he might have gout.  We did some reading online and found out that gout can be controlled with medication and diet.  Steve decided that, feeling the way he did, traveling in a mini-motorhome was not pleasant for him.  He wanted to go home and get his medical problems addressed.

I can totally understand this.  These past several years, my own need for a total knee replacement really threw the monkey wrench into being able to travel and have fun.  Mostly we have gone back and forth between Why, AZ, and Truth or Consequences, NM, just keeping it very simple.  It was disappointing that now, when my mobility is better, that Steve's is worse, but such is life.  

So yesterday, Steve and I drove back to Why, and he will stay here and get the treatment he needs, which will probably mean seeing a specialist in Tucson and getting on some medication.  Once he's on a course of treatment, he'll head back over to Truth or Consequences and spend the summer staying in the Beluga, my Class A motorhome that's parked in a nice little RV park.  

And I will continue on the Left Coast Adventure unless Steve's health problems are more serious than we think, in which case I'll skedaddle back and give him whatever help he needs.  God knows I owe him for all of the great care he has given me.  

It was kind of a shock and disappointment to realize I'll be making this West Coast trip by myself.  But now I've had a couple of days to process this information, and I'm okay with it.  Traveling solo is fun.  Back in 2011, when I was traveling in my first Toyota Dolphin, I had to get off the road and stay parked for a while because I needed a sense of community.  I needed someplace I could come home to.  Well, I have that now, so this is just a trip this time, and I'll come home to be with Steve, as well as see my friends in TorC and Why, in a matter of months.  

Also, Steve and I are thinking that once I get up to Seattle, which is my main goal on this trip, I'll want to be there for a while to see my son and many friends.  So perhaps by then, he'll be feeling better and can fly up to join me for the part where we stay in one place.  

Boondocking on BLM lands near Ajo, AZ

So, right now, I am camped out on BLM lands and enjoying a little time for reorganization before heading out towards the north tomorrow.  I've looked at my road atlas and the Internet and have found various BLM and Forest Service campgrounds all the way up to I-40, and I will probably meander slowly.  I'd like to get back up into the higher elevations within a couple of days, because the temps are rising down here near the Border.  

Sonja is heading to Seattle with me, of course



  1. Hi Sue,
    Mom and i are in Congress,Az. We hope to ride that train sometime this week. And then we are heading eastish. We might cross paths again. Wouldn't that be fun?

    1. That would be very fun, Evie. I'm thinking of heading towards Wickenburg in a few days.

  2. A different execution of a plan. Life can be that way sometimes. Thank goodness you can be flexible.

    Virtual hugs,